YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


Justice Appeals Ruling on Religious Display

An Alabama jurist asks the Supreme Court to allow his monument of the Commandments.

September 30, 2003|From Associated Press

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to allow his Ten Commandments monument to be put back on display in the rotunda of the state's Judicial Building.

Moore's brief, made public Monday, says the court "has failed to provide a uniform rule of law" on separation of church and state issues involving the public display of religious items.

"The lower federal courts are floundering in a sea of precedents with no legal rudder," Moore said in the brief filed late Friday.

A federal district judge in Montgomery ruled the monument's placement by Moore in the state building violates the Constitution's prohibition of government promotion of religious doctrine.

A federal appeals court later affirmed the ruling.

Moore contends the monument is a proper acknowledgment of God and that a federal court has no authority to tell a state's chief justice what to do.

The monument was moved in August into a storage room in the judicial building, setting off two weeks of protests outside the building by Moore's supporters.

Richard Cohen, an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of three groups that filed the lawsuit seeking removal of the monument, said Moore's case is unique from other Ten Commandments cases and should not be the one to resolve the issue.

"No matter how the Supreme Court might resolve the ambiguity, all the judges would recognize that Moore's actions were unconstitutional," Cohen said.

Moore was suspended as chief justice for defying the district judge's order to remove the monument.

He goes on trial before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary on Nov. 12 on judicial ethics charges for his refusal to comply with the order.

Los Angeles Times Articles